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29 July 2011 13:44:54 |NFU,News

Minister for the Environment and Sustainable development on fact finding farm visit


The Minister for the Environment and Sustainable development, John Griffiths AM, recently visited the farm of NFU Cymru Deputy President, Stephen James, on a fact finding visit. The Minister viewed the dairy enterprise and how farm production was being intensified but in tandem with good environmental practice to ensure that producing more was impacting less.
Stephen James, who farms in Pembrokeshire, has experienced at first hand the dire consequences of bovine TB in his herd and has seen the incidence of disease spread despite the introduction of stringent cattle control measures.
Stephen James said, "In my view the science unequivocally demonstrates a link between the disease in badgers and cattle. Farmers are doing all they can in implementing strict cattle controls and biosecurity measures particularly in the Intensive Action Area but since this is not the sole source of infection and disease transmission, we will never win this battle alone and it requires Welsh Government to deal also with the reservoir of infection in wildlife."
Stephen James explained to the Minister, John Griffiths that, "as part of the eradication programme in Wales, stricter cattle controls, increased testing and a zero tolerance approach to non-compliance with the regulations were already been adopted. Herd health planning including biosecurity protocols, are being applied to reduce the risk of disease introduction and the spreading of it and farmers are working closely with their vets. All this commitment and excellent work and the belt and braces approach that is being adopted by farmers is however to little avail without dealing with the disease in badgers."
Stephen James went on to say, "The Minister has himself in a statement to plenary acknowledged that this impact should not and cannot be sustained and as a Government they are committed to the eradication of bovine TB in Wales. The Minister’s visit to my farm is intended to illustrate why, in practice, the present position is not sustainable and why we must proceed with a holistic approach to bTB eradication that includes rigorous controls not just in cattle but in badgers too. I appreciate that these are tough and difficult decisions, they are taken lightly by no-one but we cannot, as at present, simply continue to tackle just part of the problem, which will not eradicate this dreadful disease."
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